Not easy reading, but I'm so glad I didn't cover this classic back in my college days when I was apt to skim (like I did with Paradiso and Purgatorio)...moreNot easy reading, but I'm so glad I didn't cover this classic back in my college days when I was apt to skim (like I did with Paradiso and Purgatorio). I am envious, though, of my husband's opportunity in college to study this in an Intellectual Traditions of the West class. A group discussion led by a competent instructor was what I craved every moment I had with this allegory.
I was prompted to read this after having recently finished The Dante Club, though mine was translated by Robert Pinsky rather than Longfellow. I did a few side-by-side comparisons of the two (I was not disappointed... but then, I don't speak Italian enough at all to know the difference). I made an extra effort to read a few commentaries and even created my own little "Nine Levels of Hell" flow chart, including "Environmental Conditions" and "Who You Might Find Here." I followed my husband's recommendation and eagerly used the Gustave Doré illustrations.
The workmanship of Inferno is magnificent. I was so entranced with the poetry once I realized that the Terza Rima pattern (ABA BCB CDC DED EFE...) is symbolic of the journey one takes through Hell.
It goes without saying that the influence of Dante’s work is ubiquitous. Besides the obvious works Inferno has pervaded like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Milton’s Paradise Lost, one can find reference to the different circles of Hell (especially the ninth) in hundreds (thousands?) of literary, musical and visual works.
Whatever it is that keeps me from selling all that I own and living a life of servitude and simplicity is probably also keeping me from rea...more3 1/2 stars
Whatever it is that keeps me from selling all that I own and living a life of servitude and simplicity is probably also keeping me from reaching a level of holiness that Francis Bernardone achieved. Clearly the man was holy.
While traveling in Italy, and Assisi in particular, during college, I was introduced to Francis of Assisi via Cimabue and Giotto's frescoes in the Upper Church of Francesco's (pre-earthquake!) as well as a visit to the Poor Clares of San Damiano. But my true admiration for the man came from reading this work of history.
Donald Spoto has created a straightforward and well-researched (though perhaps not riveting) document of St. Francis' life. Mr. Spoto balances faith (which Spoto shows he, himself, has) with fact, dismissing the mythological versions of St. Francis and upholding, instead, his complete devotion to Christ.
There were segments of this book that were beautifully written. Here are a few of my favorites:
We have come to accept the inscrutability of inspiration, the sudden moment of illumination, the unforeseen leap of imagination that occurs in the expression of human genius. Archimedes, Kepler, Newton and Einstein in science have their artistic counterparts in Homer, Shakespeare, Mozart and Monet. The only thing we can say for certain about their moments of epiphany is that their precise source cannot be rationally explained; the person enlightened is perhaps astonished most of all. There are many such stories throughout history and in every culture; each of them changed lives past counting." (p. 60)
The several paragraphs about birds, but particularly:
"...throughout the Middle Ages, birds were often used to represent souls, because they can fly up to God. They were also potent symbols of freedom. In the feudal system, the majority of people were tied to the land, and almost no one was mobile. But birds were unfettered, cheerful, singing, hopeful - everything workers aspired to be. As scholars have also long pointed out, the brilliant colors and intricate markings of birds were often regarded as parallels to the complex and colorful details of medieval heraldry." (p. 103)
"This is perhaps the deepest form of prayer: a silent turning of the self toward God in acknowledgment of one's emptiness and impotence - the realization that one is helpless to effect one's own enlightenment or salvation. This is perhaps also the deepest form of poverty: the conviction that one is completely contingent, dependent in the core of one's being on God, Who acts only mercifully, only on our behalf." (p. 188)
"With that sort of iconography, the Resurrection, which is at the heart of Christian faith, was effectively ignored. With attention deflected to the suffering of Jesus in the past, the Risen Christ of the present - who suffers no longer and lives forever - begins to fade from the Church's ordinary proclamation of the fundamentals of faith." (p. 196)
"And here we come very close to the true meaning of holiness. It is, at it's deepest level, a condition of spiritual integrity that always upsets public presumptions and counters the selfishness and madness of power that strangle so much peace in the world. Faith certainly professes that God continues to disclose Himself in all the intricate beauty of the world and its ongoing evolution, but perhaps God reveals Himself most of all in that sudden and unexpected radiance of extraordinary human goodness that we call sanctity." (p. 213)
Ms. Highsmith's work is psychologically sophisticated and amazingly creepy. Within a few chapters, we begin to realize that this author is forcing us...moreMs. Highsmith's work is psychologically sophisticated and amazingly creepy. Within a few chapters, we begin to realize that this author is forcing us to fight our own inclination to promote the desires of a very sick man. It seems we might understand more about Tom than he does of himself.
Highsmith's writing is simplistic and brusque and feels a bit Salinger-ian. Quick read, especially seeing as how you don't want to put it down.
This is a perfect book for a good discussion in a book club setting.(less)
Keeps the same meter and tone as the original Bemelmans books. Possibly a better storyline than some of the originals (anything is an improvement on M...moreKeeps the same meter and tone as the original Bemelmans books. Possibly a better storyline than some of the originals (anything is an improvement on Madeline's Christmas!)(less)
A sweet, fun book, often poignant and endearing. I truly enjoyed Don Camillo's conversations with the Lord, and especially liked the chapter entitled...moreA sweet, fun book, often poignant and endearing. I truly enjoyed Don Camillo's conversations with the Lord, and especially liked the chapter entitled The Procession.
We "acted" this with our children in preparation for the Shakespearean Festival. As with most of Shakespeare's comedies, there are so many complicatio...moreWe "acted" this with our children in preparation for the Shakespearean Festival. As with most of Shakespeare's comedies, there are so many complications with plot and character that at times it is difficult to remember which character with whom you are dealing. But, with explanation throughout, children will have a wonderful exposure to the language and be able to laugh at the scenarios and derisive language that permeate The Bard's comedy.
(As noted with the other Sixty-Minute adaptations, there are several missing scenes which make the play, at times, choppy and confusing.)(less)
Damn this book! (sorry. It was well deserved) I was on a reading spree when I decided to put this at the top of my long list last summer. (My husband...moreDamn this book! (sorry. It was well deserved) I was on a reading spree when I decided to put this at the top of my long list last summer. (My husband was hoping it would ingrain the correct phrase of Catch-22 in my head - I kept saying "Catch-24" ... the lesser known of the two Catches.) My ambitious reading plan came to a stand still and I wallowed in the mire of these redundant and banal pages.
The first 200 were difficult to get through. There were times when it felt like a bad episode of MASH (though I know which came first - that's like saying that I like the whistling tune from The Parent Trap... ignorant of the fact it came from Bridge on the River Kwai).
But, ok, I get it. I DO. It's a statement on the insanity of war; the inanity of bureaucracy. The motifs of jarring repetition and deja vous, of double-talk and contradiction, the dead and un-dead are just a few of the obvious ingredients in this novel.
There WERE some highlight moments for me. Chapters 19-22 were especially enjoyable. I loved the paranoia of Colonel Cathcart and the effect the name Yossarian had on him. I couldn't stop laughing thinking about Yossarian standing at attention buck naked (w/boots) and they trying to figure out how to pin a medal on him, and then Yossarian moaning for General Dreedle's nurse and the entire line joining him to make it difficult to determine from whence the moan originated. And Milo Minderbinder's numerous titles were hilarious.
If I had the fortitude to re-read this novel (which I don't) I think I would enjoy it more, and probably give it three or four stars. I can't quite say, for now, that I liked it. I think instead I'll stick to MASH for my high-brow-war-is-Hell-comedy fixes.
While the story itself was good (though predictable), the writing was sub-par. While I wouldn't expect the author to offer us antiquated dialogue for...moreWhile the story itself was good (though predictable), the writing was sub-par. While I wouldn't expect the author to offer us antiquated dialogue for these pre-Christian era adolescents, this felt like a script ripped from a Disney Channel special.(less)
What a lot of drivel: Shallow characters, holey plots, contrived dialogue. I’m not a beach book fan (obviously), but did you know that it used to be t...moreWhat a lot of drivel: Shallow characters, holey plots, contrived dialogue. I’m not a beach book fan (obviously), but did you know that it used to be that people like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare wrote for the masses? How far we have fallen.
I chose this book to get a feel for the Amalfi coast for future travel plans. As I followed the characters on Google maps, I found very few of the Amalfi landmarks referenced. “My bad” for spending three hours of my life seeking for some truth within this ridiculous book. (less)
(One star here reflects more the fact that I "didn't like" it rather than it lacked in substance. There was some merit, but I was truly glad when it w...more(One star here reflects more the fact that I "didn't like" it rather than it lacked in substance. There was some merit, but I was truly glad when it was finished.)
I read portions of this and multiple study guides in preparation for the Utah Shakespeare Festival theatrical version. This was icky, disturbing and depressing in addition to lacking in anything moral. If nothing else, I learned that if I ever take over a warring country or peoples (don't worry, I'm not that ambitious), I'll be sure to kill the leader and the family rather than bringing them back as part of the spoils.
Sure, Andronicus has it hard, but Lavinia is truly the loser in this morbid account. (less)